Head Coach Arron Haynes’ Dawson County wrestling team will open the season this Friday at West Forsyth High School. Also wrestling in the tri-meet will be AAAAA power house Mill Creek.
The meet will include a junior varsity division and will begin at 5 p.m. Haynes’ team has never been shy about wrestling some of the best competition in the state and this year will be no exception.
The Tigers will wrestle Gilmer County, AAA state champions, Mill Creek, top 10 in AAAAA, West Forsyth, AA state runner-up, Clarkston, White County, Buford and North Hall.
The team will also participate in arguably the toughest area in the state. Teams in the area are Jefferson, 11-time consecutive state champions, Jackson County, Banks County, North Oconee and Fannin County.
“We have a lot of new kids out right now. We have some experienced kids that I think will make a push towards state and could possibly be state qualifiers and possible placers. We have some tough nose young ones that just have a lot of learning to do,” Haynes said.
The Tigers currently have 36 wrestlers participating in the program. There are seven seniors on the team.
“Parts of this team remind me of our state championship team of 2004. Talent wise we are not there yet. These kids do a lot of the things that ‘04 did back then. Talent wise I think we are on par as we usually are at this time,” Haynes said.
Assisting Haynes this season will be former Dawson County High School wrestler Noel Poisson and teacher Ryan Coker.
“Noel and Ryan have really helped. They can’t be here everyday and are part time, but without their help it is almost impossible to watch all 36 wrestlers.”
Despite being in a very tough region, Haynes believes that the Tigers will be in contention for a top four spot. Since Haynes took over the program in 2003-2004 there has been only once or twice that his Tiger teams haven’t placed in the top four.
“We are right in that three-four area right now. If some of the young ones progress like we think they can then we could maybe challenge the top two teams. Things will have to work well and we not have any injuries,” Haynes said.
“I think our team as a whole is on pace to remain in the top four in the region as we were last year. Maybe do a little better, we will just have to see how the season progresses,” Haynes added.
To do that will be a tough road for the Tigers. The new region will include Jefferson, who has won the state title 11 years in a row, a very tough Jackson County team, Fannin County, Banks County and North Oconee.
Besides Jefferson, it could be fairly evenly matched among the other teams to see who can capture a top four spot in the region.
“If I had to make a guess right now Banks County would be the number two team,” said Haynes. “Next you’re looking at us, Jackson, North Oconee and Fannin,” Haynes said.
The Tigers have every wrestling weight class filled, which is hard to do, especially in the smaller weights.
There are even back-ups in all weight classes except at 103.
Dawson will jump right into the season with a match this Friday at West Forsyth. Next Tuesday, the team will travel to Fannin County for a match with the Rebels, Robbinsville, N.C. and Murphy, N.C.